By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2008, 9:15pm PT  

From Friday's Austin Chronicle...

County ClerkDana DeBeauvoir said she is committed to a point-by-point review of the county's eSlate machines, in the wake of a federal whistle-blower's lawsuit alleging that Hart InterCivic overpromised and underdelivered on the machines. The organization Vote Rescue was on hand at Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting to provide copies of Hart technician William Singer's lawsuit, which alleges that Hart stretched reports of the performance of the eSlate in Ohio in order to secure its share of the $4 billion set aside in the Help America Vote Act. DeBeauvoir said she's not yet willing to pull the plug on the machines but would if she found significant problems in light of the lawsuit's allegations. Vote Rescue would prefer the county return its machines and choose to count ballots by hand.

Singer's futile July 2004 efforts, attempting to notify the Secretaries of State in both Texas and Ohio, were originally reported in exclusive detail by The BRAD BLOG in March of 2006.

Following discussions we had with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after our report, he and his radio co-host, Florida attorney Mike Papantonio, filed a federal qui tam whistleblower suit [PDF] on behalf of Singer.

The complaint charges fraud and other violations of the False Claims Act by Hart, including allegations the company failed to test its products properly, and frequently at all; withheld information from prospective clients about the potential loss of votes in its voting systems; dummied-up machines, reports, and test results presented to clients in sales presentations; and much more in an attempt to win state and county contracts and the federal money that came with them...

Singer's stunning suit was finally unsealed two years later by a federal judge last March, after the U.S. Dept. of Justice finally declined to join the suit.

Short of several excellent reports (see here and here) by Dan Campana of the Beacon News, based in Kane County, IL (where they also use the same, faulty Hart e-slate systems), there has been little coverage of the suit, other than by The BRAD BLOG. But what else is news?

Vote Rescue, as mentioned in the Chronicle's coverage, is a non-partisan Election Integrity organization based in Austin. In addition to their on-the-ground EI efforts, the group has a two-hour weekly Sunday radio program on We The People Radio, hosted by members Vickie Karp and Karen Renick, featuring reporters (such as ourselves) and other EI advocates and whistleblowers.

Hart is currently attempting a hostile take-over of competitor Sequoia Voting Systems. Hanging in the balance, among other things, a new $100 million contract recently struck between Sequoia and New York state to supply them with new optical-scan voting systems in time for this November's general election.

So far, we've been unable to receive comment from NY authorities in regard to any concerns they may have about doing business with Hart, a company with a federal fraud lawsuit hanging over their head, instead of Sequoia who they recently chose, instead of Hart, for their massive, new state contracts.

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